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NASA Space

NASA To Invest In Commercial Crew Concepts 77

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the this-is-yer-captain-speaking dept.
xp65 writes "Today NASA released information regarding its intention to invest $50 million in commercial crew concepts. This new program, known as the Commercial Crew Development or 'CCDev,' represents a new milestone in the development of an orbital commercial human spaceflight sector. By maturing 'the design and development of commercial crew spaceflight concepts and associated enabling technologies and capabilities,' the program will allow several companies to move a few steps forward towards the ultimate goal of full demonstration of commercial human spaceflight to orbit."
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NASA To Invest In Commercial Crew Concepts

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  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @10:15AM (#28972629)
    How about releasing the info to -all- US citizens who paid their tax money for it? Because in the end this will end up benefiting major government contractors (Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, etc) who more or less already have the tech for spaceflight, rather then helping get space tourism, or other commercial spaceflight off the ground.
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @10:30AM (#28972915)

    Everyone is already complaining about it being unfair, but remind me, how much is congress getting ready to spend on Cash for Clunkers again? $50M is chump change. Hell, I can make the argument that NASA's entire budget is chump change these days compared to many other departments and all the other spending that is going on.

    I wonder if people opinion would be different if they called it $50 Million in economic research stimulus.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06, 2009 @10:36AM (#28973015)

    Small gov't would be them not taking my money in the first place!

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday August 06, 2009 @11:44AM (#28974375) Homepage

    If NASA hadn't killed promising R&D programs like the X-33 (VentureStar), we would already have replaced the Shuttle with a system which reduced flight costs substantially, improved safety and reliability, has shorter turn-around times, and can fly more often.

    All I can say is "the grass is always greener" and "sour grapes". The X-33, like the Shuttle, had too many untested/unproven technologies to result in a craft that was cheaper/safer/more reliable/etc... It's almost certain it would have been a white elephant. Though to be fair, a new generation of white elephant isn't entirely a bad thing as we won't ever develop the requisite technologies without actually flying multiple generations of craft.
     
     

    Which, by the way, is what is needed to help stimulate a growing space economy.

    The space economy is already a multi-billion dollar affair. Most proponents of improved space access like to pretend the existing economy doesn't exist or doesn't matter, but it does. Mainly what they are trying to do is redefine 'space economy' as equivalent to 'space activities other than that done existing big aerospace corporation', even when the new startups are doing or planning on doing the same activity.
     
    Or to put it less gently, the amount of doublethink, self delusion, special pleading, and smoke blowing in the space proponent community is astonishing.
     
     

    It all depends on reduced cost of, and increased reliability of access to orbit.

    It also depends on finding a market for all those boosters. Right now, all the bets are on one faltering horse - tourism.
     
     

    If the objective were to create a private market for access to space, NASA could do this easily. All they need to do is announce that they will buy payload to LEO delivery services from the private market, at market rates. Right now market rates for a single launch of a modest payload are higher than the total size of this program.

    NASA, and the USAF, have been buying payload to orbit delivery services (other than the vast minority represented by Shuttle launches) from the private market for decades. (Not to mention B2B [wikipedia.org] transactions by private satellite operators.) Though space proponents don't like to admit it - Boeing, LockMart, etc are private companies.
     
    Remember what I said above about re defining terms and special pleadings? When space proponents say "purchase launches from the private market", that's code for "subsidizing our preferred booster manufacturers".

  • by icebrain (944107) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @12:58PM (#28975747)

    It's almost certain it would have been a white elephant. Though to be fair, a new generation of white elephant isn't entirely a bad thing as we won't ever develop the requisite technologies without actually flying multiple generations of craft.

    If only more people understood that. Everyone wants cheaper access to space, but nobody wants to ay the legwork to get it. New technologies don't just appear out of nowhere; someone has to work on them. Making powerpoint slides and computer models doesn't count; paper printouts, equations, and nebulous ones and zeros don't put payloads in orbit.

  • by rbanffy (584143) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @01:40PM (#28976379) Homepage Journal

    "If NASA hadn't killed promising R&D programs like the X-33 (VentureStar) "

    On the other hand, if NASA hadn't killed the Apollo program, we would be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first lunar base this year...

    The shuttle also was, just like Venturestar, a promising, low-cost workhorse. In the end, it turned out to be much harder to build and operate a real vehicle. Venturestar would, probably, follow more or less the same path. Remember: every technology holds a couple surprises.

    Let's see what comes out of Ares or that Shuttle-C-like thing. We have time. It's not like space is going anywhere.

  • Re:How about... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 06, 2009 @02:04PM (#28976853)

    You say that spacecraft launchers aren't 100% equivalent to ICBMs like that should comfort us, but every single difference you mention (tiny failure rates, fragile cargo, higher energy trajectory) is an example of how spacecraft launchers are far, far superior to ICBMs. An ICBM couldn't take you into space, but you could sure as hell use the space shuttle to deliver a nuke.

    So yes, I would still like to keep this technology out of the hands of Iran and North Korea.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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